Find us at the bar
Never at the spa
Hear the screaming guitar
We are Battle Scar
We Are Battle Scar M.S. 1986
My first band Battle Scar lasted three weeks, had seven members, which was not bad for a four piece, and we played one gig. Not really an impressive record but I guess there is a lot of musicians out their whose first band was not very good.
Willy wasn’t a bad drummer, in fact he was quite good with the double kick drum and the fast blast beats that would one day become such a part of heavy metal that drummers would invent their own forms of it. But things just weren’t to be, but for a short time they did look promising.
We hired a guy by the name of Chase Hamilton for the spot of lead guitar two days after Willy and I formally formed the band. We found the guy at a pub in Adelaide playing for another heavy metal band and it made sense to keep him as a lead guitarist and leave me playing rhythm, at least until I got a little more band experience. Chase lasted four days before our first warm up gig clashed with his other band so he pulled the pin. The second guitarist, I don’t remember his name, I think it was Michael something, only lasted twenty four hours leaving us no lead guitarist and only five days to find someone. Thankfully our first gig was always going to be covers so we just needed to find someone with out music tastes and we did that with Frank Chall.
The bass player, a guy named Kyle Trannet, was easier to find, we found him before Chase quit and after three rehearsals he seemed to fit in well and was keen for a gig. Then there was the vocalist, a guy by the name of Tracey Shan, he’d been singing in a Black Sabbath cover band for several years which made him older than all of us and with the most experience. He claimed he chose our band because we told him we wanted to be writing own own original material as soon as possible, something his old band was never going to do.
Whether he grew to regret that decision I don’t because two months after the break up of our short lived band he was found dead in an alley way, his throat was cut, there was needle tracks in his arms and he was covered in a white powder, almost as if the person who killed him was sending a sign that he was a drug addict.
I don’t really know what broke us up, musical differences sounds like the most amicable term, but for that to be true it suggests there was something musical to be different about when I don’t think there was. We played a gig with two sets and twenty four cover songs from what I thought were our favourite bands and we all got to choose a few songs, I also wrote one song, called Battle Scar, which I can admit now was not very good, but I felt a self titled song showed we took ourselves seriously. Apparently we didn’t.
Willy and I stayed together, for whatever reason we seemed to gel, not just with music but with everything. For the first week after the band fell apart the two of us sat in the garage of his Mum’s place, drank, smoked weed, listened to music and played instruments, not just our own but whatever we could get hold of.
In the second week we did leave the garage a few times but it was mostly only in the search of new band members or new music. Willy had a job at the local bottle shop which gave him some money, as well as discounted booze, while I had a decent amount of cash saved up from my days with Power TC.
During the hours we spent in that garage I couldn’t teach Willy much on the guitar, I was still learning myself, but he taught me to bash out a few tunes on the skins, we even dragged an organ his mother had inside the house out to the garage and tried to emulate Jon Lord from Deep Purple.
It might not have seemed like we were doing much in Willy’s Mum’s garage, we had no band, we had no gigs and we had no songs. However what that time did for us I’m sure helped pave what we were to become. The reason for that was because we were practising our craft, we may not have been great at it but as they say practise makes perfect and for every day we practised we surely got better.
With four years on me Willy also had both a driver’s licence and a car which meant we weren’t only confined to bus routes and public transport hours. That meant we also got to see a lot of bands, bands from the emerging metal scene, bands from the established pub rock scene, anything that had guitars and drums and was at a venue we could get into for free, which was most places considering I knew so many bouncers and venue security guys.
The difference with seeing those bands was that I was there as more than a worker and more than a fan. I was watching and learning everything I could. I watched the way in which bands worked together on stage, the dynamic between players, if there was such a thing, and how each player fitted into the role. There was some bad examples of this, sometimes it was a bad night other times you could see deeper issues if you watched long enough, but with some of the bands it was there in spades and something every band should aim for. I also watched how the bands interacted with audiences good and bad and I watched the way lead singers read the crowd so they knew how to progress the show. Not every band was good at these things but I was taking so many metal notes I was surprised I wasn’t going full on mental. It was an amazing time that allowed me to actually become a musician not just a guitar player.